A Mom’s Mini Emergency Kit

When my kids were small, I had a variety of diaper bags – ranging from small, to medium, to large; colorful to plain; fancy to formal –  with everything I needed for outings with them. I struggled to carry a purse and diaper bag and eventually gave up on the purse altogether. Then I switched to carrying a large purse of some sort that was secretly a diaper bag with a small corner for myself, so that I could look a little more put together.

Having to lug around all the stuff that a baby or toddler requires was no fun. I often had marks on my shoulders from carrying a heavy bag that never got lighter. Sometimes I would remove something I felt wasn’t needed, only to need that exact item later that day (and it was never needed when I had it).

I was so happy that as my kids got older I could carry less stuff. No longer do I need to carry diapers, extra clothes, toys, bottles, blankets, etc. I can take all three of them anywhere with the clothes they are wearing, and perhaps a bottle of water, or something to occupy them with, depending on our destination.

The only permanent item I carry is a small emergency kit.

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I bought a small, transparent toiletry bag that measures 6 1/2″ long x 5″ wide x 3 1/2″ deep, and in it I keep several small items I always need when out with the kids. I chose to put them all in a small bag so that I can transfer it to whichever purse or shoulder bag I’m carrying that day. These are basic items that often end up in your purse anyway, but tend to get lost in the mess and can be hard to grab at a moments notice.

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Here is what I carry (from left to right):

  1. Tissues – always handy.
  2. Disinfectant hand wash – for those times when there is no water but they are hungry and need a snack “right now”.
  3. Antiseptic cream – for minor cuts and scrapes.
  4. Wet wipes – useful for everything from wiping dirty faces and hands to cleaning scrapes, or getting food off of clothes.
  5. Mosquito repellant – needed most of the year, though I usually have the spray instead of the cream.
  6. Bandaids – I use these a lot.
  7. Crocin tablets – for me. If I am able to curb a headache when out, things go much smoother.

There are plenty of other items I could carry, but these 7 are the must-haves that I can’t go without. Outings have been easier since I put this together.

Do you carry something like this? What would you add to it?

"He’s a Bad Boy!"

That’s what my son told me when picked him up from school today. One of his classmates had pinched him and he was very upset. Logan is by no means innocent of pinching. No, he pinches just as hard and often as the next kid, but hates being on the receiving end. Of course!

What got me was how quckly he labled his classmate as a bad person. Remember we are talking about kindergardeners here. I asked Logan why he was saying that, and apparently he had heard his teacher call the other boy bad when he did stuff like hit and pinch.

So I took some time to explain to Logan the difference between doing something that is bad and actually being a bad person, and I began to recall something I had read years ago in regards to discipline – never lable your child or they will end up living up to it. Since it is such a habit for me, I wrongly assumed other adults were aware of it too, which is why Logan’s statement about his teacher surprised me so much.

We often forget that children, especially between the ages of 2 and 5, are just learning which actions are acceptable and which are not. Children lash out and hurt each other because they don’t know how else to react when a friend or classmate does something they don’t like. Hurting each other is like a built-in self-defense mechanisim.

Children will only learn other methods of working out problems from us, their parents and teachers, and it is imperative that we explain and demonstrate the behavior we want them to learn in a calm manner. Yelling at them to stop hitting is usually counterproductive. I know because I’ve tried it. Like any mother, I will get frustrated with their meanness to each other and I will yell and threaten, but I shouldn’t because I know better. When I do stop to talk to them and I handle it calmly, they are more likely to sort out their differences and get along better.

Here are some tips to remember when you are faced with hurtful behavior from your child.

– Never call your child bad. Do that often enough and your child will see themselves as bad and they will wonder why they should even try to be good.

– When your child does something that hurts someone else, first let them know that it is the action that is bad. Say, “Pinching the baby was a bad thing to do.” Never say, “You are a bad boy for pinching the baby.”

– Next, explain why what they are doing is bad, and why they shouldn’t do it. Ie. “Pinching is bad because it hurts and we shouldn’t hurt people.”

– A further step would be to show them how they should act instead. You could say, “We touch people gently” while taking their hand and showing them what a gentle touch is. Show your child how to gently pat or stroke the child they hurt on the arm or hand.

– After that, it is good to teach them to apologise. For a toddler who isn’t verbal yet, you can teach them an action that they can do when they hurt someone. Maybe they could pat the person or give a kiss. At first you will have to walk them through the action while saying “I’m sorry.” That way they connect the action with the words. A child who can talk can learn to say “I’m sorry” and maybe they could do something nice for the person they hurt.

This kind of training doesn’t belittle the child; instead it helps them see that they are capable of acting in a good way, plus it gives them a life skill that they will be able to use in the future. We all want our children to be good, but it is the way we say it that will encourage or discourage them.

Do you have a story or tips you would like to share along these lines? Please do so in the comments.

Keeping Sick Kids Happy – and Busy

This past week was a real doozy for us – all 5 of us got quite sick with some kind of flu or something. Thankfully though, my hubby got it first and then was well enough to care for the kids when I couldn’t move.

Caring for kids with fevers and getting them to rest is never easy, especially when they continue to be active. I think this is why it takes them so long to get well – they don’t want to rest. When the fever hit me I slept for almost 2 days straight, as did my husband, but the kids? When they had fevers (one at a time, no less) they would lie in my bed or on the couch and rest – for a while. Then as soon as the fever would go, they would be up and about, playing, coloring, etc. I just get tired thinking about it. And this is why Logan still is having fevers off and on, and why the girls are still coughing and why I’m still cleaning thick mucus from their noses.

As a child, I recall my mom sending us to bed when we had more than a cold, and making us stay. But it is hard to keep a kid in bed, no matter how sick they are. So here are a few things you may like to try the next time you have to keep your kid in bed but they aren’t so sick that they just want to be held. Note that none of these ideas are guarenteed to keep them down but they may buy you a few minutes of peace or a chance to use the toilet.

– Videos, movies, t.v.: a favorite show or movie will probably keep them down for a while. They can lie on the couch or in your bed. Use a laptop if you don’t keep a t.v. in the bedroom.

– Books: For kids who can’t read, many will be content to flip through picturebooks. If your child can read, then provied a new story that will interest them, or perhaps an old favorite.

– Coloring, drawing, dot-to-dot: Any of these kinds of activities are good. Provide a lapboard or a breakfast tray for them to use as support. And make sure the crayons/markers etc. are washable, just in case they end up on the sheets or p.j.’s.

A breakfast tray like this would be great for holding books and art supplies.

– Games: board or card games can be fun, especially if you have more than one child to occupy.

– Puzzles: use the tray for support.

– Play with dolls: dressing and undressing, fixing their hair.

– Surprising them with a small new toy, something you know they will love, may help keep them down awhile.

– If they are a little older and want to be up, an arts and crafts box at a table may keep them busy. They won’t be lying down but will still be resting.

So what are your favorite tricks for keeping sick kids happy?

Not a Perfect Mom? Join the Club

Today’s post is linked up with Confessions from an Impulsive Addict‘s weekly meme, Talk to Us Tuesday and

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the Honest Voices linkup at Honest Mom.

 

Before my kids were born, I dreamed about how I would be the perfect mom. I had it all planned out. I would always comfort and hold them, talk calmly, never get upset. I would snuggle whenever they wanted and storytime at night would be fun. In my imagination, my kids would be good all the time, would always listen – actually, I think I never planned on them growing up.

Learning to be a mom has been tough, I’ll admit. There is always something new around the corner that I have to figure out how to handle. Sometimes I have an “ahh” moment and I am proud of how I handled a stiuation; at other times I wish I could go back and redo it cause I know I messed up miserably.

PMS time is the hardest time of the month for me to interact with my kids. I lose my temper easily, shout more than necessary, punish needlessly, and just make life miserable for all of us. Those damn hormones! It usually takes a few days before I figure out why I am feeling so irritable; once I do, I can more easily catch myself and control it, but until then, I am a walking timebomb.

Every little fight, mess, cry – it all gets on my nerves and I let loose. I wish I could always be calm and collected, but I guess that is wishful thinking on my part. What mother is always calm no matter what is happening around her?

Once “that time of the month” is over, I return to my normal self. But I continue to wonder if I will ever be able to make it through a day without getting upset once. Logan and Lila seem to be at war all the time. They keep fighting, biting, pinching, taking things from each other, and generally doing whatever they can to upset the other one. Do they know it gets on my nerves and is that why they do it all day long?

I think I just need a vacation – without them.

They only look innocent …

What do you do when being with your kids begins to take a toll on you? How do you de-stress?

 

P.S. I wrote this post almost a year ago when my youngest was still nursing, plus I had a troublesome toddler and always-on-the-go preschooler. Not much has changed, except they are all a year older. 🙂

Summer Fun – Day Camps



Excited about his first day at summer camp.

 Do you remember attending summer camps as a child? I never went to one, so I can’t speak from my own memory, but I have heard they can be fun for kids. As a child, I often wondered why parents would send their kids to a camp when the kids were free from school and had time to spend with their parents. Now that I am a parent myself, I can understand their value. Parents aren’t free just because it is summer; they still have to work. And even if a mother is home with her kids, there is only so much she can do before their fights and demands for attention and activities get to her.

Enter summer day camps. While older children might benefit from camps where they actually stay at them for a few weeks, day camps are great for the little ones. You drop them off, spend a few hours doing what you need to do, and pick them up in time for lunch and naps – at least, that is how it is working for me. Logan’s school offers day camps for children from 3 to 12 years, so we signed both Logan and Lila up for the 3 to 5 group. They have 3 hours of activities every weekday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They started last week and the camp will last for one more week, ending on Lila’s birthday.


She was a little more hesitant.



Some of the activities they have been enjoying are dance, science projects, cooking, art projects, tae kwan do, French, and one day was a field trip to the railway museum. I like having them go because for 3 hours a day, they are completely occupied in a safe location, freeing me to catch up on housework, go shopping, relax, or whatever … at least, that was the hope. I have discovered that Scarlett has become more clingy since she lost her morning playmate and she follows me around like she is tied to me. She also wants to nurse more and insists on going outside after the others leave. Needless to say, I don’t get much done around the house as she has not yet learned to entertain herself.

Thankfully those are three hours in which I don’t have to listen to fights over who needs which toy, whose turn it is to pick the video, “mommy, I want to do this with you”, “mommy, he bit me/she hit me”, screaming, and so on. These are hours of peace that help me get through the rest of the day with them easier. Another benefit is that Lila is getting used to being with someone other than me, and since she will be attending this school come June, she will already be used to it and will hopefully settle in more quickly.

Have you ever, or do you, send your kids to day camps? What has your experience been and how has it made the summer more enjoyable for your whole family?

Outing Ideas

Do you ever feel the need to get out of the house with your child but you don’t want to go anywhere that is a big ordeal or where you have to pay a huge fee? Here are a few ideas that are sure to occupy children, cost little or nothing, and are fun:
Your local pet shop – Places with animals are usually great for small children.

My three love animals.

A children’s bookstore – read a few books and maybe pick one to take home. Some children’s bookstores offer a story hour which preschoolers will enjoy.

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Your local library or a children’s library – these also often have story hour, or you can just browse and borrow a few books or DVD’s.

The children’s library near our house.

Lila (10 months) enjoying the books.

The mall – go during off hours when there is hardly anyone shopping. That way your child can run and look at things without causing trouble for anyone.

Last Christmas Eve.

A toy shop – my kids love visiting the toy shop, and I always make it clear to them that we are just looking, not buying. They often point out things they like and it gives me ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts, and once in a while we do get something small for right away, like bubbles or a small toy or book.
One drawback of a toy shop is that many are very strict about children not touching the toys or playing with them and that can be frustrating since obviously that is what children know toys are for. As long as you are right there and they aren’t wildly pulling stuff off the shelves or being rough with things, it should be fine.

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Ice cream shop – always a fun place to visit, especially in summer.

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A park – if you are bored with the one you always go to, find a new one.

Lila and Scarlett having fun.

 Where is your favorite quick-outing place?

Summer Fun – Water Play

My children have always loved using water play to cool off in hot weather. When we lived in a tiny apartment, they played in the shower, but when we moved to our house and got our large patio/balcony, they had more space to play.

At first I gave them a bucket of water to play in; then we used the baby bath tub. This works just great for small children in a small area.

September 2010 – Logan, 2 yrs. 10 mo.; Lila, 1 yr. 5 mo.

Then I got them this tiny pool that measured only 2′ in diameter. It was small but they could both get in and enjoy it. It only lasted a short while though as Lila started biting holes in it and I couldn’t inflate it any more.

September 2010

After that, Logan got this large pool as a gift for his 3rd birthday. We finally set it up a few months later once the summer was in full swing and I was recovered enough from Scarlett’s delivery to carry buckets of water to fill it. I think this one is 6′ across.

May 2011 – Lila 2 yrs., Logan 3 yrs, 6 mo.

And we are still using it, but now I use a hose to fill it. And Scarlett loves to help.

This was taken yesterday. Scarlett 16 mo., Lila 2 yr. 11 mo., Logan 4 yr. 4 mo.

Some water play tips:

– As with any activity, safety is important. Make sure the area you are using is non-slippery and has drainage. For a balcony area, you may want to sweep it first if there area lots of leaves or dirt. That way the water stays cleaner and there is nothing painful to step on.
– Bring the toys your child wants before getting in the water to avoid having wet feet and drippy swimsuits running through the house for something they forgot.
– Even if your child is old enough to play alone, do check on them frequently. And never leave a toddler or baby unattended around even a small amount of water.
– Remember your sunscreen, and use hats and t-shirts if your child burns easily.

Have fun.

What is your kids’ favorite way to cool off in the summer?

Surviving the Non-eating Years

There comes a time in the life of every child that they decided to quit eating. Yes, you heard me right, quit eating. This is most common during the preschool years.

Logan has been going through this non-eating stage for almost a year now. It unforturnately coinsided with the day he started preschool, so at first I thought it was just a case of nerves. Sadly it wasn’t. He started turning down food right and left, and giving up what has once been favorites, like milk.

At first, I handled it like I think most mothers would – I tried to force him to eat. I tried threats, punishment, force-feeding, denying treats, but this only led to tears, tantrums and frustration for both him and me. It took time, but I soon realized that I was fighting a losing battle and that if I wanted things to change I would have to handle them differently.

The first thing I had to do was calm down and not freak out when he didn’t want to eat. My main concern  was that Logan was underweight to begin with (he had been sick) and I wanted him to regain what he had lost, so I had to come up with things that he would eat and find ways to add extra nutrition to them that he couldn’t see. It took some experimenting to find out what he would and wouldn’t eat. Thankfully, my kids generally like healthy food, so if, for example, I was preparing chickpeas in a sauce, I would keep some aside with no sauce for him since he would eat large amounts of them plain (and now all 3 of them prefer them plain, so the sauce is for hubby and I). Also, while Logan quit drinking milk, he still loved yoghurt, so the solution in that case was simply to switch the two. (Now he drinks a little milk every so often, but it is at his request. I also had to stop saying things like “You asked for it, now finish it” when he decided he only wanted a mouthful at a time.)

The second thing was that I had to think long-term. His eating habits have changed over this past year, often going from liking something to disliking it days later. Sometimes he picks up again, but mainly I ask him if he wants something or not, and I try to make sure there is always something he will eat. Many times he will also turn down favorites, or will be in the middle of a meal and just stop and not want to finish. Staying calm has helped me to be able to say, “Ok, leave it” instead of forcing him to keep eating. Sometimes he will return to eat it later, or Lila will finish it off for him.

Another thing I found was that he didn’t like eating right away in the morning. Up until he started school, I had never served breakfast as soon as he woke up. He would usually just have a cup of milk and we would eat maybe an hour later. So when he started school and had to get up earlier and eat sooner, it upset what he was used to and he freaked. It took time before he was able to eat soon after waking up. Some mornings
he didn’t eat at all, so instead I would pack him a larger snack and he usually ate that as he was super hungry
by then.

Now, one year later, he is still picky about what he eats. He is up and down about foods, but at least he has learned to say “I don’t want any more” instead of screaming when I ask him to finish. Lila is not quite 3 but is already getting pickier, though I don’t think I will have quite as much trouble with her. She is a taurus and they are known to be quite the food lovers. And Scarlett? At 16 months she will say no to foods – a lot. But then she also eats a lot and is still breastfeeding so I’m not worried about her.

So now I want to offer you the mother’s guide to surviving the non-eating years with food in your child’s tummy and your sanity intact.

1. Stay calm. Relax your stance on how much you think your child should be eating, and instead see how much they eat over a weeks time. Generally it will be fairly balanced.

2. Don’t force your child to eat. Avoid food battles at all cost. Continue to serve meals as usual and don’t make a scene if your child only wants to eat one or two bites. Children will eat when hungry, so don’t sweat it if they skip meals or snacks. They will make it up when they are ready.

3. Don’t give in on treats. If your child is like most, they probably love sweet treats, chocolate, etc. but don’t opt to only let them eat sweets or junk food just to get food into them because then you will be getting into a habit that is hard to break. Save treats for appropriate times and instead make heathy food readily available.

4. Do find out what your child will still eat. This will require that you keep your eyes and ears open at first, but after a while you will have it down. Be aware that likes and dislikes will change frequently at this age.

5. Make food rules. You may need to put some rules in place if you find your child won’t eat at mealtimes but always wants snacks at odd times. A child this age probably needs to eat 5 to 6 times a day (3 meals and 3 snacks), so make a simple poster with the timings and pictures to post on your fridge to use to teach your child about the concept of set times. You could put a clock with the arms on the time when you will serve food, then make a game of showing your child when it shows that time on your wall clock. Then serve your meals and snacks accordingly. Children at this age have no concept of time; it has to be taught.

Logan would come for snacks, and since he has always been on the skinny side, I let him have food when he wanted since I didn’t want him to lose more weight. Eventually though, I got him back on the meals-and-snacks-at-set-times routine. It is also not good to eat randomly as food needs time to digest. I always explained to Logan that if he ate so soon after last eating he might get an upset tummy and that was enough to get him to wait. It could have also had something to do with his fear of throwing up and wanting to avoid it.

6. Expect that your child will stop eating. Even if they were great eaters as toddlers and ate anything at all, expect that this will change. Expect them to give up something they loved a week ago. Expect anything, and you will be prepared for it.

7. Don’t make two meals at dinner. Dinner seems to be the time when it is hardest to get a child to join you and eat what you are serving, since at breakfast and lunch it is easier to just offer cereal or a sandwich. You don’t want to wear yourself out by making two separate meals. Instead, make sure that there is something you know your child will eat on your menu and still offer the other foods, even if you are sure they won’t like them. I always put some veggies on the kids plates and sometimes they do get eaten.

8. The most important rule: Relax. It is so important that I am repeating it. Relax. Keep yourself calm and you won’t feel so stressed out. After all, a mommy has to eat too and it is hard to eat if you are upset.

Summer Fun – Water Painting

This might not be what you are thinking it is, so read on. I once read about this activity in a book of things to do with preschoolers. It is simple and sure to keep them occupied.

All you need is a large paintbrush (one for painting walls), a bucket, and an outdoor area such as a driveway or balcony that is cement or waterproof.

Fill your bucket with water, then show your child how to “paint” the walls with water. As children are wont to do, this painting will probably cover more than the walls. The ground, steps, car, outdoor toys – everything will be painted. But you can rest assured that nothing will be ruined since the paint is actually water.

You may also want to dress your child in a swimsuit and not leave them fully dressed as I did. I just increased my laundry pile. Not smart. But they had a lot of fun, even painting each other in the process. I finally had to put a stop to it when they began climbing into the bucket and fighting over it.  Next time I’d better give them each their own bucket.

You could also do a mini version of this if you don’t want them to get wet by giving them a small paintbrush and a plastic cup of water. This works well with Lila as she likes working with small things, but I would never give it to Logan if I wanted him dry as he would be sure to get wet, throw the water, drink it, or dump it on someone.

Logan’s First Sports Day

For a few weeks now, Logan was preparing for his first ever sports day. He isn’t too good at gross motor skill coordination, and it takes lots of practice for him to get down things as simple as marching in step or skipping, for example. He lost a week of practice due to his recent sickness, so he had to focus extra hard on the last 4 days before the big day. All week I got good reports, about how he was practicing well, focusing, keeping time, following prompts, etc, and I felt he would do good at the actual event.

Ready to go.

He was on the Pooh Bear team, which made him happy. He loves Pooh.

Finally it came, last Friday, the 17th. Since he didn’t have regular school that day, he had some time to relax before leaving, and then he told me he didn’t want to participate. Well, I wasn’t about to just let him quit, so I told him we were going anyway, and I got everyone ready and out the door about 15 minutes before we had to be there. The stadium was close by so there was no rush, but going anywhere with the 3 kids hanging off of me, even to catch an auto, takes time.
We got to the small stadium and found Glad, who had been there since early morning. The other two branches of the school had been there earlier and he was needed there. He took Logan to join his class and I took the girls up to the balcony seats to watch the events.

Scarlett kept calling, “Dada, dada” every time she saw daddy down below.

Lila was not pleased that she didn’t get to join Logan and spent most of the time there sulking and trying to get me to carry her, yet I was busy trying to make sure Scarlett was safe as she wanted to look over the balcony and tried more than once to crawl through the large gaps in the rails.

Sorry they aren’t so clear. She was moving a lot.

The show started with the classes all marching around the stadium, something Logan had told me several times he had finally gotten down. It was cute to see all the children marching around, some happily, some still crying for their parents (3 to 5 year olds). Then they did a dance to a medley. Logan did his best to follow the teachers up front and copy their moves, though when the fast song came he broke out into his own steps. Ha.

This is Logan’s class. He is the one in blue on the right.

The dance. Logan is in the final row in the back.

After that the races started. Each class worked as a team in a variety of relay races. Then the winner of each class held a final relay to get the overall winner. There were four classes in each age group, playschool and preschool, so two final events. Logan got bored with waiting as his class was second to last and he kept trying to get away.
Finally it was his turn, and I watched as the other children in his class each took their turn. His was coming and all I could think was, “Logan, just do what you have to do.” Well, he decided he’d had enough of being made to stay with his class, and the moment his teacher told him to run, he did, but to the other side of the court, not on the line marked out. Oh, my! The nanny chased him down and brought him back but he ended up not participating in the relay after all, just as he had wanted. The rascal!

You can see Logan in the back trying to convince daddy that he didn’t have to join in.

Once everything was over I went to get him, and then we found daddy and the kids had a short run around the court. Lila was happy again as she had gotten to go down were daddy and Logan were. Logan did get a certificate of participation and a mini trophy, which will bring back the story of his first ever sports day when he is older, and when he hopefully won’t run away from the events.

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